Sunday, September 20, 2009

Why Do I Ride?

Why Do I Ride?

Now there’s the $20,000 question. I’ve ridden for so long that it's just something I do. So today I took the time to stop and analyze the real reasons behind why I put my feet in the stirrups a few days a week.

I've posted before about why I board my horse, but why I choose to ride as opposed to some other pursuit is a different question.

So why do I ride?

The obvious reason for me at this point in my life has to do with exercise. I find riding, especially dressage on my particular horse, to be very good exercise. There have been a lot of times in the past few years that I’ve considered quitting, but the ultimate decision came down to exercise. I don’t want to be one of those middle-aged women who rarely ventures outside when the weather is bad. In fact, I’ve put on twenty pounds this past year, which I attribute to the fact that I have gone from riding 5-6 days a week to only riding 2-3 days a week.

Of course, if I’m only looking to exercise, there are cheaper ways to do that. I could get a membership to a gym or I could start jogging or swimming, etc. Instead, I’ve chosen to spend my free time with an animal. Maybe that’s the difference? Maybe that’s why I ride?

Riding involves interaction with another living being. It's a cooperative partnership. When all goes well, it's one of the greatest natural highs on earth. There's not another feeling on earth like riding a horse who's happily going forward, light and round. I had a ride like that last week. No pulling, no shying, no falling on the forehand and going faster. Instead, the horse and I seemed to be in sync. When that happens riding is easy, effortless, and infinitely rewarding. There was this tenuous thread connecting us, easily broken, simple and complete, needing only the slightest movements from my body and subtle thoughts in my mind.

A leisurely trail ride through the woods on a brisk fall day would feel just as good. The sun shining through the trees, leaves crunching under the horse's hooves, geese honking as they head south for the winter. The feeling of my horse underneath me, relaxed and happy to be out of the arena. Just me, my horse, and nature. I've had moments like that, and they're priceless.

How about the perfect ride at a show? Usually I know when I ride into the ring that it'll be a good ride. Everything just comes together and one movement flows into the next effortlessly. All I do is sit and enjoy, not wanting to do anything to disturb the harmony between my horse and me.

So why do I ride? For moments like those.


Anonymous said...

I had one of those rides yesterday, and I know exactly how you feel! I also just love the daily interactions with the horses that don't involve riding - grooming, caring for them, and watching them interact in the pastures.

OneDandyHorse said...

Why do I ride? Well, first, I've done it for so long, I can hardly imagine not having horses in my life, not being able to tack up and go whenever I feel like it. I have no intention to show my horses,so why do I have them? I enjoy their company, their abilities, their intelligence and trainability. There is nothing, and I do mean nothing (if there is, I haven't found it yet) like a nice trail ride in autumn, with the bright colored leaves, the fresh air and smell and the wildlife, the freedom and the feeling of lightness and power of the horse... there is nothing like that... running through a field or a nice wooden trail, the feeling it is, just like flying. If I don't ride, I spend most of my free time with my horses, grooming, petting or just spoiling them. They are our partners in work and play, and deserve our respect. I am not interested in doing other sports or training in a gym, I need to be inthe presence of other living creatures, having a bond and knowing that trust and happiness are felt by both parts of the team.

Laura Crum said...

I'm with you guys on the nice trail rides...that's one reason I still ride. Though I'd have a hard time picking between summer, when its all so mellow, or the stirring autumn days, or a bright, sunny winter afternoon, or spring, when the wildflowers are blooming. And I, too, keep horses partly for the daily interactions that don't involve riding. I love looking down the hill from my house and garden and just seeing them there. I also feel that riding contributes to my raising my son in a healthy way...the horses give him a connection to the natural world that is beyond price. And like OneDandyHorse, I've just had horses so long that I can't picture my life without them. I'm 52, and I've owned horses non-stop since I was first allowed to buy my own horse at the age of fifteen. That's a pretty long run. Horses are part of my life, and a part that rewards matter if I'm competing, trail riding, or just feeding and petting them.

Shanster said...

YES! Everything said here! Those amazing rides that are like NOTHING in this world... and their way of being... whiskers and whinnies... shiny coats in summer and fuzzy coats in winter... the smell of leather, hay, shavings, manure, sweet feed, ... everything. Love it!

Nan (Nancy Clarke) said...

Why ride? For years it was that perfect stress reliever after a hectic day on the job, that moment of oneness with my best friend, the only one who truly understood me. The need just to draw closer to nature, to bring life back to basics. Then, after 18 wonderful years, it was over. Lameness and age caught up with us. Seeking that bond again was not easy. Three bad experiences later my confidence was shattered and fear, that hitherto unknown passenger had taken up permanent residency. Just when I was ready to give in, to find my horse fix through my writing instead, the answer came from a most unlikely source. Thanks to a funny little guy with spots and a blue eye the healing has begun. It's slow and only time will tell if we will ever share what I had with the old one. But the alternative -not to ride - is unthinkable.

Jami Davenport said...

You guys all bring up great points. Something else about horses, is there anything better than the sound of horses munching hay in their stalls at night? Or the smell of horses? Or just watching a horse in a pasture?

I guess some of us were bitten by the bug and that's just the way it is.

Nan, I'm glad you're getting over your fears. I was injurred badly by the horse before my current one. I'm still gunshy and rarely will ride other people's horses.

Jami Davenport said...

PS: Nancy, you mentioned you were a writer. Would you like to do a guest blog?

Laura Crum said...

Funny you should mention that about the sound of horses eating. Yesterday evening, after I fed, I just sat in my chair by the barn for about twenty minutes, watching and listening to the horses munch their hay, while my son was swinging in his swing in the big liveoak by the barnyard. Its moments like these, hard to describe and they don't sound very exciting to non-horse people, that are at the heart of the delight I take in owning horses.

Nan said...

Jami asked: Would I like to do a guest blog? Sure, love to. Topic?

Jami Davenport said...


Email me, as I don't know how to contact you.